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Coraline - Neil Gaiman, P. Craig Russell
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A good adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline in graphic novel form. There was nothing wrong with this book. It was good. It follows the story with interesting illustrations. 

What hurts this graphic novel most is that the film adaptation (which has entirely different artwork) came out a year after this book. Because of this, I'm sure most people associate Coraline with the movie animation, therefore, the graphic novel artwork doesn't measure up.

I'll admit, I prefer the movie artwork. Maybe because that was my first exposure to Coraline. I then read the novel and now the graphic novel (and I enjoy them all in that order, which is probably telling). The graphic novel representations of the characters run on the realistic side rather than the cartoon-y look of the movie. It's all a matter of preference and order of exposure. 

But still a good graphic novel, especially for those who enjoyed the original novel.
Listen to My Trumpet! - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

What starts out as a simple story about honesty, turns into an adorable tale of friendship.

Very cute book. I really enjoyed the ending. 

As with the other Elephant and Piggie books, the text is simple, the pictures are cute, and it is fun to read together with different voices. This one has the added bonus of making fun elephant/trumpet noises. 

Great book. A very fun read.
A Big Guy Took My Ball! - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A great little book about making (big) friends.

This is another wonderful addition to the Elephant and Piggie series. Fun, simple story with nice illustrations. I love all of the facial expressions and creative dialogue. 

This is a very fun book to reading along with young readers, having each person pick a different character. 

Awesome book, awesome series.
Cleopatra in Space #1: Target Practice - Mike Maihack
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

For Mike Maihack's first graphic novel, this one is actually pretty amazing. Cleopatra is transported into a futuristic academy on another planet and has to partake in Indian-Jones-style missions to prepare her for her role as messiah of the galaxy. Oh, and there's an organization run by cats. What's not to love?

Great simple dialogue with awesome artwork, this is such a great book. It is easy to get sucked into the story. And Cleo's character is snarky and hilarious. This is a very pleasurable read. 

Whether she's walking in on a surprise birthday party or fighting robot mummies, it is always a fun adventure with Cleo by your side. Excellent book. A great read for young graphic novel fans. 

I am so excited to read the rest of the series and find out what happens next.
Curious George Builds a Tree House (CGTV Reader) - H. A. Rey

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

A cute enough story.

Growing up, I never liked Curious George. It always bugged me that George does naughty things (usually unknowingly), but then never gets in trouble (or worse yet, is rewarded). At least use the situation as a teaching moment. No wonder George is always messing things up. Nobody bothers to teach him why he should or shouldn't do anything. Clearly, I was a very mature child.

Anyway, this book was okay. I haven't watched the show, but I'm assuming this comes straight from it. Following the old-school arch of the original George books, George messes up two of his neighbors projects, because they are vague in their speak, then they forgive him (even though he doesn't apologize or thank them in any way) and don't bother to teach him what they meant, once again rewarding George in his behavior.

Side note: what is George? They always call him "little monkey", but he has no tail and the only monkey that doesn't have a tail is the Barbary Macaque, which George looks nothing like. I'm pretty sure he's supposed to be a chimpanzee, which is an ape. Small thing, but it's still annoying we are teaching children that monkeys and apes are the same animals. Clearly, I am overly critical of children's books, but whatever. 

I did like the learning section at the end with suggested building activities. A fun way for kids to learn about building and construction.

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry - Gabrielle Zevin
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a really hard review to write. Overall, I liked the book, but it is kind of hard to put into words what I did and did not like. 

I found the book interesting enough. The story was unique in it's overall arch, although it utilized a lot of not-so-creative story concepts (the cheating husband, grumpy old guy who knows sorrow, accidental pregnancy). It was full of overused plot devises, which was annoying, but they were put together in an interesting way. 

It's not that I didn't like the book, but to me it just didn't live up to the hype. That's the problem with books that become really popular. You start getting unrealistic expectations and the thing itself just can't compete. The book was in no way bad, but it felt surprisingly slow-paced despite all of the interesting concepts. 

I did like the focus on short stories and A.J.'s recommendations of them to Maya. I think it was an interesting way to structure the novel by having A.J.'s notes on the story to open each chapter. 

Having said that, it felt like it was trying too hard to appeal to book-lovers. At first it was kind of cool for The Book Thief recommendation to pop up or for Maya to be holding Where the Wild Things Are, but after a while all of the literary references felt strained. Mostly, I just wanted to get on with the story. I absolutely love books, but I don't want to necessarily read a book about how much other people love books. Sometimes it works, such as when fictional, non-existent books are mentioned (The Series of Unfortunate Events) or if real books are used, to have them further the plot of the story (Book Scavenger). This one just kind of made a lot of tangents to discuss books when what I really wanted was to continue the plot and hear the story of this book. 

I think for the most part, I just didn't care about a lot of the characters. Most of them just kind of floated from page to page, letting things happen to them. Tamerlane is stolen. Maya just shows up. Things happen, because that's the way they're written. It felt more like the characters let things happen rather than the characters actually doing anything. 

Also, the characters are annoying woven together. The cast is surprisingly small and they are all connected. I get it's set on an island and it's a symbol for how A.J. isolates himself and all that, but I got tired of hearing about the same characters over and over again. I longed for some side character to pop up for a bit. 

There's a bit of a twist near the end, which was interesting, but I don't think it was enough to "save" the rest of the book. By the end, I was just irritated by the annoying way that everything came together so perfectly and obviously. I wanted something to not work out quite right. But every piece has its place and the tight-knit group of characters stays tight-knit until the end.

Overall, it was a good read, but it was a bit drawn out at times. 
The Boy with the Cuckoo-Clock Heart - Mathias Malzieu, Sarah Ardizzone
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Definitely weird, but I liked it. 

A few weeks ago, I watched Jack and the Cuckoo-clock Heart on Netflix and enjoyed it. I then downloaded the corresponding album by Dionysos and fell in love. So of course I had to track down a copy of the book to make my obsession complete.

Overall, it was a good read. A weird one, but a good one.

The writing is beautiful. Malzieu really creates some magnificent images. I loved his descriptions. They are lovely and grotesque all rolled into one. The book is written in a kind of steampunk-y, Tim Burton-esque way that works well. I liked all the weirdness of the Ghost Train, the historical people that popped up, and of course the concept of a clockwork heart. 

Plot-wise, the book was interesting enough. It was fascinating to be along for the ride on Jack's strange adventure. But by the end, I was a bit tired of Jack's love quest. I will say, I much preferred the movie ending to the book ending. The book ending makes everything seem pretty pointless. It is obvious why the ending was changed for the movie.

Other than that, the movie sticks pretty closely to the book. Besides the sex. There is lots of sex stuff, which is much more subtle in the movie. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book. The story itself was good and the characters were interesting. But the main reason I liked this book so much was the language used. The writing is simply beautiful. So unique and fantastic. Great imagery.
In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories - Alvin Schwartz, Dirk Zimmer

Note: Review of the reillustrated 2017 version


For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I found a copy of this book at the library the other day. The title sounded familiar, but I didn't recognize the illustrations, so I figured it was a book I'd heard of but never read. I just got around to reading it and realized it's a reillustrated edition of a book I read as a kid. 

The stories are okay. They are all very, very short. I think when I read them as a kid, they were creepier for two reasons. One: I was a very easily-scared child and am a slightly braver adult. Two: the illustrations in the original were much scarier. These new ones are cute Tim Burton-y versions of the originals. Much less creepy and more cutesy. They aren't bad, but definitely make the book a lot less scary.

Having said that, "The Green Ribbon" and "The Night It Rained" will always stick with me. They aren't scary, just good in that sad, creepy way.
Let's Go for a Drive! - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Another silly, fun, creative adventure, starring Gerald and Piggie. Such a great series and this book is no exception. I love the creativity in this one especially.

Nice illustrations, fun dialogue. This is such a great series to read with children or for older children to read to younger siblings. Good beginning reading. 

These books are so simple, yet so much fun.
Elephant & Piggie Like Reading! The Good for Nothing Button! - Mo Willems, Charise Mericle Harper, Mo Willems, Charise Mericle Harper
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

This is a cute idea for a book. I like how it expands on the Elephant and Piggie universe. The story itself is funny, but I wouldn't say it's as good as the actual Elephant and Piggie books. The concept was too circular and it doesn't really go anywhere. But it is still a fun read. 

Nice illustrations. I love all of the facial expressions. 

Plus, Gerald, Piggie, and the Pigeon all make an appearance in the book, which is fun. 

A cute read for fans of Gerald and Piggie. 
Watch Me Throw the Ball! - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Woo! Woo! Another great Elephant and Piggie book. This one tackles the simple concept of having fun even if you aren't really good at something. Cute illustrations, great simple dialogue that still teaches a nice lesson. I love these books.

I have been checking a lot of these books out from the library lately, because one of the kids I work with loves reading them together. These are great books to take turns reading, each person picking a different character. A fun, engaging read with simple words and sentence structure. Plus who doesn't love yelling in a Piggie voice.

Great read.
Charlie Cook's Favorite Book - Julia Donaldson, Axel Scheffler
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Oh my gosh, this is such a creative idea of a book. While the book doesn't tell a fluid story, it is still very entertaining nevertheless. It is basically if Inception was a children's picture book. 

I love Julia Donaldson's books. They are always sure to delight.

Axel Scheffler did the illustrations for this book and I loved all of the possible references to the other books, such as the owl and squirrel from The Gruffalo and the frog from Room on the Broom. Some of these may be coincidences or just the way Scheffler draws various creatures, but it is still fun for children to point out the similarities. As always, the illustrations are very fun and detailed.

A great book that is very unique and entertaining. 
Peppa Pig and the Muddy Puddles - Candlewick Press

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

For whatever reason, I cannot stand Peppa Pig. In the show, I think it's the strange storylines and the horribly annoying snort laughing that ends each episode. Normally, I wouldn't read this book, but at work we are exposing a kid to various kid things and last week was Peppa Pig so I picked this up from the library to read to him.

Overall, it was an okay read. As with the show, the story was a bit weird. Peppa's sad there is a flood instead of muddy puddles (because child priorities), then they go to the store, then there is a big muddy puddle the next day. Happy ending. Not really much of a story. 

The illustrations are cute and very colorful.

As an adult, I was a bit concerned out the lack of preparations taken before the flood, but I suppose all the houses were built on hills for a reason. Whatever. I know children shows don't have to make sense; it just kind of bugged me.

I am sure Peppa fans would like this book, I am just not one of those fans. 

I Really Like Slop! (An Elephant and Piggie Book) - Mo Willems, Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Another fun Elephant and Piggie book. This one tackles trying new foods and not liking the same foods as your friends.

A cute book with hilariously colorful pictures. This is a fun read. 

As with the other Elephant and Piggie books, this one is great to read with kids, each person taking on the lines of their own character. A fun way to keep children engaged in reading. This is also a wonderful book for older children to read to younger siblings. 

Fun, entertaining read.
I'm a Frog! - Mo Willems
For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

I love the Elephant and Piggie books and this one is no exception. A hilarious book about the power of pretending.

As with the other Elephant and Piggie books, this one is told entirely in different colored speech bubbles, which makes it a wonderful book to take turns reading lines with children. Each reader can be their own character. One of the kids I work with really enjoyed this. He is, of course, always Piggie and gives her a very high, screechy voice. This is a wonderful way to make books and reading more engaging for children. 

As always, great illustrations. I love the emotional range of the cartoon characters.

A very fun books. 
Will Grayson, Will Grayson - John Green, David Levithan

For more reviews, check out my blog: Craft-Cycle

Overall, I enjoyed this book. I didn't like it as much as some of the other John Green books I have read, but it was still a good read.

Interesting concept for a story. I really enjoyed the characters. I'll admit it took me a while to warm up to Will Grayson (the depressed one), probably because he hit a little too close to home with my own depression and self-loathing. He was still a good character, but he's not always palatable. I will mostly reference this Will Grayson throughout my review, because he's the one I most identify with, and I'll refer to him as The Depressed Will Grayson, because that is the aspect I most identify with in his character. 

I think there are a lot of great, relatable lessons in this book. Whether you are figuring out your sexuality or not, there is so much other stuff going on in this book (friendship, honesty, love, self-worth) that everyone can take something away form it.

I also liked the various representations of gay characters. Not every gay character is "gay" in the way that Tiny Cooper is gay. They aren't just stereotypes of gay people, the characters live and breath like real people. Will Grayson (the depressed one) is so different from Tiny Cooper or Gary. Each is their own person outside of their gay identity. 

Also, oh my goodness, it is impossible to not fall in love with Tiny Cooper. Even when he's being kind of a self-centered jerk, you still love him. No wonder Will Grayson (the non-depressed one) gets sucked into his orbit. 

There are some "jokes" that were made it poor taste, in my opinion, such as those regarding school shootings and self harm. But overall, the book was good.

I enjoyed the audiobook version of having two different narrators, one for each Will Grayson. It was a little difficult to remember which Will Grayson was narrating between listenings (especially once their paths crossed), but the different voices helped. 

Overall, a good read. I enjoyed it.